Malnutrition can be defined as a condition that is being caused by consuming foods that lacks majority of the nutrients needed by the body; is often most severe in children, who needs lots of nutritious food to grow well and stay healthy. This is common among poor people.
TYPES OF MALNUTRITION
- Mild Malnutrition
- Severe Malnutrition
- Dry Malnutrition
- Wet Malnutrition ( KWASHIORKOR )
This is the most common type or form of malnutrition, but it is not always obvious. The child simply does not grow or gain weight as fast as a well-nourished child. Although he or she may appear small and thin, he or she usually does not look sick. Because he or she is poorly nourished, he or she may lack strength to fight or resist infections. So the person becomes more seriously ill and takes longer to get well than well-nourished child.
Diarrhea and Colds are the major sicknesses the children with this types of malnutrition suffer from. Their colds usually last longer and are more likely to turn into pneumonia. Measles, tuberculosis and many other infectious diseases are far more dangerous for these malnourished children. More of them die.
It is important that children like this get special care and enough food before they become seriously ill. This is why regular weighing or measuring around the middle upper arm of young children is so important. It helps us to recognize mild nutrition early and correct it.
This occurs most often in babies who stopped breast feeding early or suddenly, and who are not given sufficient high energy foods often enough. Severe malnutrition often starts when a child has diarrhea or another infection. We can usually recognize children who are severely malnourished without taking any measurement. The numbers increase dramatically in poor communities during times of famine due to drought or civil war.
DRY MALNUTRITION ( MARASMUS)
This child does not get enough of any kind of food. He or she is said to have dry malnutrition or marasmus. In other words, he is starved. The body is small, very thin and wasted. He or she is little more than skin and bones. The physical features you can see on the child are as follows:
- Having the face of an old man or woman
- Always hungry
- The child develops potbelly
- Having underweight
- Becomes very thin
This child needs more food especially energy foods.
WET MALNUTRITION ( KWASHIORKOR )
This child’s condition is called kwashiorkor or wet malnutrition because his or her feet, hands and face are swollen. Kwashiorkor occurs when a child does not eat enough body building helper foods (proteins). The physical features you can see in this child are:
- Swollen moon face
- Color lose in the hair and skin
- Stops growing
- Sores and peeling skin
- Swollen hands and feet
- Thin upper arm
- Wasted muscle
Any child in this condition needs to be fed whenever possible and with fresh food that has not been stored for long. The child also needs lots of main food rich in energy and some foods rich in protein. If the family store of main food is old and possibly unsafe, use machine made powdered corn flour or dried skim milk if possible.
Give the child vitamin A or you can add red oil to the child’s meal. As the kwashiorkor gets better, malaria may break through; when this happens, you can give antimalarial drugs.
OTHER FORMS OF MALNUTRITION
Among poor people, the most common type of malnutrition are due to either hunger (marasmus) or lack of poorly stored main food (kwashiorkor). However, other forms or types of malnutrition may result when certain vitamins and minerals are missing from the food people eat. Malnutrition can cause the health problems :
- Night blindness in children who do not get enough vitamin A
- Rickets from lack of vitamin D
- Skin problems, sores on the lips and mouth, bleeding gums from not eating enough fruits, vegetables and other foods containing certain vitamins.
- Anemia in people who do not get enough iron.
- Goiter from lack of iodine
In order to prevent wet malnutrition or kwashiorkor, children should be fed whenever possible on food that has not been stored for a long time. The children also need enough body building helper foods to give them protein.